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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finds dramatic increases
in worst case housing needs (known as “worst case needs”) that cut across demographic
groups, household types, and regions.1 This rise in hardship is due to shrinking incomes and
upward pressure on rents caused by growing competition for already-scarce affordable units.
Worst case needs rose more sharply between the 2007 American Housing Survey (AHS) and
2009 AHS,2 both in absolute and percentage terms, than in any previous 2-year period since
at least 1985. During this 2007-to-2009 period, the number of renters experiencing worst
case needs jumped by more than 20 percent, from 5.91 to 7.10 million.
Given the severely challenged economic conditions that the United States has confronted
during the past several years, particularly surrounding the housing market, it is not surprising
that the need for housing assistance continues to outpace the ability of federal, state, and
local governments to supply it. HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs 2009: Report to Congress
examines the causes of and trends in worst case needs for affordable rental housing.
Washington, D.C.